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© Richard Barrett-Small, Midlothian & Edinburgh

Greens: “SES Plan is Madness for Midlothian”

Midlothian faces becoming a gridlocked commuter belt for Edinburgh, say the local Green Party, who have submitted a formal objection to the upcoming South East of Scotland Plan (SESPlan).

A consultation is underway to establish the proposals included in the next strategic development plan for the region, which will ultimately set the development quotas for housing in the county. Once approved, Midlothian Council will have to fulfil the targets within their own Local Development Plan.

However the Green Party have signalled their opposition to the plans warning that Midlothian already has allocated land worth double our housing needs.

Green Councillor Ian Baxter (Bonnyrigg) said:

Midlothian is being asked to meet Edinburghs demand for housing.  But communities in Midlothian are already deeply concerned about loss of green spaces and community identity.  New private housing developments are springing up on the fringes of existing towns and villages.  All too often these are commuter enclaves that contribute little to Midlothian life, but clog up our roads with yet more traffic.  We need a radically different strategy that focuses on revitalising our failing town centres and reducing the need for travel.

The current operational SESPlan was approved in June 2013 and stated that the south east of Scotland has a need for 155,544 new homes by 2032. Land already committed in Midlothian has the potential to create 10,200 houses. The next SESPlan will however allocate further land in Midlothian beyond that already committed.

Daya Feldwick, Midlothian Green Candidate and activist, said:

The SESPlan proposals are madness for Midlothian.  We need a Green Midlothian, not a Greater Edinburgh.  The planners believe concreting over Midlothian is the answer to Edinburghs projected growth.  But more roads and more private houses wont even meet Edinburghs needs, let alone Midlothians.

More than half of the housing need in Edinburgh, and two thirds of the need in Midlothian, is for council housing.  But the only plan for meeting that need is allocating massive areas of greenfield land for private housing, and pleading with the developers to make some of those houses affordable.  It just cant work.

Midlothian Council is currently in the process of ratifying its local development plan following a lengthy consultation process. Should it be approved in its current form, Midlothian Council will use the proposed realignment of the A701 to release hectares of Greenbelt land, with the aim of creating new economic opportunities. Housing is not included in the plan for this land at West Straiton, though it could be added in the future.

Councillor Baxter added:

People in Midlothian are fed up with local politicians nodding through every single new development without question.  Its time for a radical change.  We are now calling for some of the massive over-allocation of land for housing in Midlothian to be reversed.  Some of that land needs to be released for other uses or protected from any development.  Lets breath life back into our towns, protect our green spaces and give people control over their own communities again.

The Midlothian Green Party submitted its response to the SESPlan consultation last week before it closed on September 30. All responses are now being collated and a final proposed plan will go back out to consultation in Summer next year.

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